In my former career as an escrow officer, I learned the important rule of keeping your files neat and well documented. I also learned the very important lesson of never opening a file on top of another file that was presently opened on my desk. Invariably, a piece of paper from the top file seemed to find its way into the file that was on the bottom. A true recipe for disaster!
Many companies are starting to have all of their files stored electronically, rather than in paper form. But, for those companies who still maintain a paper file, a few words of wisdom.
- Maintain a sheet on one side or the outside of your file that contains the contact information for your client, as this will save you considerable time in not having to search though the whole file for that all too important e-mail address for your client.
- We live in times that are very litigious. Keep a log of your verbal conversations. If you are pulled into litigation, your conversation log may come in very handy and may help to minimize your litigation exposure. You might want to consider keeping the conversation log either under the contact information sheet or on the very top of the file, so that it is easily accessible and as a reminder to you to keep a log of your conversations.
- I have worked for companies whose files are very well defined into specific sections, and I have worked for companies whose file seem to have no rhyme or reason to them. I much prefer the defined-sections method for the reason that if I am looking for a listing agreement, or what marketing has been done on the property, or what correspondence has been sent/received, I can simply flip to that section to start my search.
- Depending upon the type of business you are in, it may be important to have at your fingertips various reference numbers and/or a chart of the status of the job being performed. Even though our firm is moving in the direction of electronic storage of information, I still find it very helpful to have a sheet inside the file that provides me with pertinent information about the file. There are those who say that sheet is unnecessary, as it is stored electronically in our computers, but when the boss asks you to bring a file into the conference room where he is meeting with a client and he asks you a specific question – like “when does this listing expire”, I can easily flip to the page and give him the answer, rather than having to leave the room, go to my computer, search for the answer, then go back in and relay the answer.
- Lastly, try and keep the file in neat order throughout the life of the file, especially before it is filed away and put into storage.
These are just a few words of wisdom. I hope they will be helpful to you.
About Suzanne Tikker
Suzanne Tikker joined Haedrich & Co., Inc. with 33 years of experience as an escrow officer and 2 years as a residential lender. Her background in escrow and lending has proved to be invaluable in overseeing the complex contracts, purchase agreements, leases, and escrow transactions of the office. Suzanne is also a licensed real estate salesperson. This experience, along with her expertise and professionalism make Suzanne a valuable asset to the company and the commercial real estate clientele we serve. Suzanne is also very involved in the North State Escrow Association, as well as the Exchange Club of Redding.